News-based English language activities from the global newspaper

August 2011

Level ≥ Lower intermediate Style ≥ Lesson plan
Welcome to the Guardian Weekly’s special news-based materials to support learners and teachers of English. Each month, the Guardian Weekly newspaper selects topical news articles that can be used to practise English language skills. The materials are graded for two levels: advanced and lower intermediate. These worksheets can be downloaded free from guardian.co.uk/weekly/. You can also find more advice for teachers and learners from the Guardian Weekly’s Learning English section on the site.

Polish man ‘lost’ in São Paulo airport
Materials prepared by Janet Hardy-Gould

Instructions
Lesson focus: Materials: Time:

reading, using sequencers article, dictionaries 60 minutes 4 Hand out student task 1 with the main stages of Parzelski’s stay. Ask students to read the article again and put the stages in the correct chronological order. Class feedback. 6 mins a [ ] He made his home on a seat. b [ ] The friend didn’t appear. c [ ] He arrived at the airport. d [ ] He left the country again. e [ ] Airport workers began to look after him. f [ ] He walked through customs. g [ ] Local journalists learned about his story. h [ ] He looked out for his friend. i [ ] He told his story to a Polish man. Answers: a 3 b 5 c 1 d 9 e 6 f 2 g 7 h 4 i 8 5 Tell students in pairs to write down a short text with sequencers about Parzelski’s story. They can use phrases from exercise four and information from the article. Monitor and correct. 12 mins 6 Then ask students to think about a true story when they were lost or stuck somewhere. Ask them to make brief notes. They then tell their stories using sequencers in small groups. 15 mins

1 Tell students a brief story about when you, or a relative, were stuck at an airport. Ask them to listen carefully and remember as much as possible. Include some of these words: real-life story, be marooned, set up camp, bench, be unable to, return flight, terminal, customs. Also, include sequencers such as: (at) first, (just) then, next, soon, after, in the end, finally. When you have finished, see how much the students can remember and reformulate the story as a class. 10 mins 2 Tell students that they’re going to read a similar story. Show them the headline: “Polish man ‘lost’ in São Paulo airport” and the photo of Tom Hanks. Ask if anybody has seen the film The Terminal. If yes, they can briefly describe it. Then write the question words: who, why, when, where, how long, what, how much/many on the board. Ask students in pairs to write one or two simple questions about the Polish man. For example, “How long was he lost in the airport?” Monitor and correct. Elicit the questions and write them on the board. 7 mins 3 Give out copies of the article. Students read the text with dictionaries and find the answers to the questions. Advise them only to look up three words they think are important. Class feedback – go through the answers to the questions. Also ask: What was his strange mission to the country? To collect two phones. 10 mins

News-based English language activities from the global newspaper

August 2011

Materials sheet

Article: Polish man ‘lost’ in São Paulo airport
1 The strange story of Robert Wladyslaw Parzelski, a 44-yearold Polish man who got “lost” inside São Paulo’s international airport for 18 days, has captivated the Brazilian public. 2 The story is similar to Steven Spielberg’s 2004 film The Terminal. In the film Viktor Navorski is marooned inside New York’s John F Kennedy airport because the US government has cut diplomatic ties with his homeland. 3 Navorski, played by Tom Hanks, enjoys a long but actionpacked stay at JFK. He has a romance with an air hostess played by Catherine Zeta-Jones and even finds a job as an airport construction worker. 4 The real-life story of Parzelski, a London-based electrician, started on 17 June when he arrived in São Paulo on a flight from London. He got through customs, but without a return flight, a word of Portuguese or a penny to his name, he decided not to leave the terminal.

Tom Hanks in the film The Terminal

Student task
1 Read the article and put the main stages of Parzelski’s stay, below, in the correct chronological order a [ ] He made his home on a seat. b [ ] The friend didn’t appear. c [ ] He arrived at the airport. d [ ] He left the country again. e [ ] Airport workers began to look after him. f [ ] He walked through customs. g [ ] Local journalists learned about his story. h [ ] He looked out for his friend. i [ ] He told his story to a Polish man.

5 Instead, he set up camp on a bench inside the airport and waited for a friend who had agreed to meet him there. But his friend never came. 6 Alone and unable to communicate, Parzelski did his best to make himself comfortable. Worried airport cleaners began caring for “the German”, bringing him daily servings of water, yoghurt and cigarettes. 7 Several days into his stay, Parzelski’s story was picked up by a local newspaper. Their reporters began investigating. 8 The newspaper found a Polish speaker who could reveal his story. Parzelski had moved to London to work. When he lost his job, a Polish friend proposed a trip to Brazil. Parzelski was given a one-way ticket to São Paulo and a strange mission: to return with two telephones. Nobody was ever able to learn why somebody in London wanted two Brazilian telephones. 9 Eventually, the Polish consulate helped Parzelski to leave Brazil and fly back to London. Original article by Tom Phillips, rewritten by Janet Hardy-Gould